When we hear or read that someone was violently killed in our city or county it can impact us differently than when it happens in another state or another country. The closer things happen to our home, the more vulnerable we might feel. Reports of violence can evoke feelings of fear or anger.
Homicide is the technical term for murder. For every 100,000 people in the US in 2010, 4.7 people were murdered. That’s a statistic for you; can’t even count the 5th person complete. Every one of those deaths is a death that should not have happened.
The correlating numbers from countries in Central America are remarkable for the vast difference between here and there:
Guatamala – 39.9 homicides per 100,000
El Salvador – 41.2 homicides per 100,00
Honduras – 90.4 homicides per 100,000 (The Progress Report)
If the homicides were this high in the United States one wonders how average, law abiding people might react: arm themselves if they could afford to, move to place that seemed safer, move to Canada.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. It is not a surprise then that families are desperate to get their children to a safer place. During WWII families in London sent their children to live with strangers in the country, Jewish families in Europe sent their children away to any place they thought might be safer than where they were.
Throughout history, children have been easily brutalized by the violence initiated and perpetrated by adults. A parent’s first instinct when there is danger is to safeguard their children. For those of us who live in relative safety, it is difficult to approach the feelings of desperation someone feels that she would allow her child to travel thousands of miles. Because it is difficult for us to approach those feelings ourselves, we can have a hard time feeling compassion for these parents.
Jesus asks us to “be compassionate as your heavenly father is compassionate”. Jesus commands us “to let the children come to me”. The faith of a Christian must include practices of compassion for people whose plight we may not fully understand. The faith of a Christian must include practices of hospitality for children, regardless of whose they are. These are included in the job description for “disciple of Christ, follower of Jesus, body of Christ.”